By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express
As the province currently analysis the role of regional government, Durham residents recently had a chance to voice their opinions.
Residents were given the opportunity to speak in front of provincial special advisors Ken Seiling and Michael Fenn, and while the meeting was sparsely attended, those in person did have a number of concerns.
Fenn explained he and Seiling would include the feedback they received in recommendations to be delivered to Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
“The purpose of the regional government review is to examine governance, decision-making, and service delivery functions for eight regional municipalities and the County of Simcoe,” he explained. “And to in particular identify opportunities to ensure that these municipalities are working effectively and efficiently and can continue to provide the vital services on which their communities depend.”
He said once they provide their recommendations, the provincial government will determine the next steps.
Individuals were given five minutes to address Fenn and Seiling, and organizations were given 10 minutes.
One Oshawa resident called regional governance a “failed experiment,” noting he believes there are several problems such as the duplication of services at both the regional and the city levels, which result in a lack of accountability and transparency.
Marc Gibbons, a speaker from Scugog, believes the review of regional government is long overdue, and whatever the outcome, he wants the importance of local decision making to be kept in mind.
However, Gibbons noted smaller areas such as Scugog need greater funding from the province.
“On our own we’re a small, small population, a small tax base and a large area,” he said. “In my opinion effective government has to be local, and these mega structures don’t work and the local voice, the local opinion, gets lost.”
Tiffany Balducci, the president of the Durham Region Labour Council and the president of Durham Northumberland CUPE council, focused on paramedic services and library services.
“I had the opportunity to speak with many of our amazing paramedics in our region… and I learned a major issue that our local council has been apprised of is the rapidly growing gap between call volume and the resources required to service that demand with immediate response,” she said.
She notes Durham Paramedic Services encounters a reoccurring basis where one or zero ambulances are available to service calls.
“This is a troubling situation, whereby 682,000 residents over 2,523 sq. km are left without an available paramedic transport unit, averaging over 10 minutes when triggered,” she said.
She said this is a trend which continues to grow, and compromises patient care and puts lives at risk.
Balducci hopes to put more ambulances and paramedics on the roads.
Those wishing to still provide comments can visit https://www.ontario.ca/page/consultation-regional-government-review and can submit their concerns until May 21.